Because this Sunday is Aug 6, we are interrupting the Sundays of Ordinary Time to celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus as witnessed by the inner circle of Disciples- Peter, James, and John.
Imagine yourself sitting down and talking to somebody who is an atheist or does not have any faith, perhaps he/she is a family member or a co-worker. And the person genuinely asks you who God is- how would you answer? Maybe you’d answer- well God is the all-powerful creator of the world, and there is one God but 3 persons. Understandably, they have a puzzled look on their face trying to understand what you just said. Not fully understanding, they go on and say all they know about Jesus Christ is that He was a good man who lived a long time ago who taught a good moral code- how to be a good person, but then they ask if there is more to Jesus than just that? What would you say? Would you do your best to explain that He is the Messiah, or the Savior? Let’s say you answer that Jesus is the only Son of God. What if they ask you how do you know these things that God is 3 in 1 or who Jesus really is? And you say- well the Bible says so. Hoping that will be enough of an answer to satisfy them so you can leave the conversation, but no- they really want to know. They ask- can you show me where in the bible you find these things? Of course you would have your bible right there with you, right… at least on your phone? So there you are, racking your brain, you know it is somewhere in the Gospels, but where and which Gospel does it talk about God being 3 in 1, or Jesus being the Son of God? You’re hoping and praying for a quick inspiration from God, then suddenly you remembered this homily on the Transfiguration- relieved- to say to yourself- whew, thank you Fr. Chad!
Our readings today can be of great help to explain some of the important aspects of our Christian faith. Indeed, in our readings, God reveals Himself to us, and we can begin to see how God is Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Likewise, our readings also portray how Jesus is much more than just a good moral teacher, but that indeed, He is revealed as the eternal Son of God. So let us dive right into our readings and begin to understand and appreciate what they reveal to us.
In our Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. Right away for the disciples, that was the first clue that something special was going to happen. For throughout the Old Testament, God revealed Himself up on a mountain. For example, God revealed himself to Moses up on a Mountain in Exodus 33-34. And in 1st Kings God revealed Himself to the prophet Elijah. And indeed, up on this mountain, God will again reveal Himself, but this time God will reveal Himself as a Triune God- as Trinity. Jesus is revealed as more than human by His face miraculously glowing and his clothes become as white as light. Next our Gospel declares that a bright cloud cast a shadow of the disciples. Now obviously this is no ordinary cloud, but the cloud itself is a divine revelation- how often have you seen a bright glowing cloud cast a dark shadow? For the disciples would have remembered the revelation of the cloud in Exodus, when the tabernacle was built, the place where God dwelled, there was a cloud which overshadowed it. Whenever Moses would go into the Meeting Tent to converse with God, the cloud would overshadow it. And on their journey through the desert to the Promised Land, the Israelites were led by a cloud in the day and fire by night. The cloud is a reference to the Holy Spirit. Finally, the third divine person is revealed as a voice through the cloud which says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.
So from this amazing image in our Gospel, God reveals Himself in 3 glorious but distinct ways- Jesus, in dazzling white clothes, is declared to be the Son from another divine voice that is speaking from another divine being- the cloud. While this Gospel of the Transfiguration gives a glimpse that there are 3 divine beings, we really only learn a few things. We learn Jesus is more than just an ordinary human as He was suddenly and gloriously transfigured, and we learn that somehow God is represented by a bright cloud, and can deduce that the voice from the cloud is the Father of Jesus. However, we still don’t really know who God or Jesus really is; but, this Gospel paired with our 1st reading does give a fuller understanding.
Our 1st reading is a prophecy from Daniel, just a few hundred years before the time of Jesus. In his dream, Daniel sees One, who he calls the Ancient One- in clothes white as snow and sitting on a throne with myriads of angels ministering to Him. And then Daniel sees One like a son of man coming on the cloud of heaven, and this son of man receives everlasting dominion, glory, and kingship of all peoples and nations from the Ancient One.
Notice how in our Gospel, Jesus is transfigured in dazzling white, just as the Ancient One was glowing in white. Therefore, we now can see that the voice calling Jesus ‘His Son in whom He is well pleased’, is the Ancient One. And just as the cloud in the Gospel brought forth the voice of God the Father, so also the cloud in the prophecy brings forth the Son of Man. This prophecy of Daniel is the only time in the Old Testament that the title- Son of Man is used- and Son of Man is the title that Jesus revealed himself as more than any other. Therefore, by Jesus calling himself Son of Man over and over again, each and every time he was reminding the disciples- who knew this prophecy- even though you see me now in human form, I am the eternal Son of the Ancient One.
Finally, my brothers and sisters, while this Gospel of the Transfiguration and this prophecy reveal that God is a trinity and Jesus is the eternal Son of God might be fascinating, but what really matters is what this truth means and how it is received. What good is having this knowledge and faith that Jesus is the eternal Son of God if it does not impact and change us? What good is this prophecy if we do not let Him have dominion over our lives- or our lives do not testify that Jesus is the Lord and Center? Peter, in our 2nd reading, recounts that He, James and John are eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration of Jesus and they heard the voice of the Father, and evidently this glorious encounter transfigured them too. Indeed what good are these verses if we do not do what God the Father commands us to do- to listen to His Son! Peter also encourages us, and all others who are called to become Jesus disciples, “You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place”. For truly when Jesus is in the center of our hearts, and we are truly living for Him, then our lives have meaning and we are filled with light and joy.
And so my brothers and sisters, Jesus is indeed the eternal Son of God, and He did not become human just to leave us a good moral code to live by, but He became human so that we can become who we were made for- we were made for God. We were made to be in perfect union with the Triune God! The Triune God doesn’t reveal Himself to show us how far we are from Him, but God reveals Himself, the Eternal Son became human, to bring us into perfect union with Him. Just as the Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus is the Son of the eternal God, so it also is to inspire us to allow our lives to be so transfigured that we become like God. Come Lord Jesus and transfigure us into your perfect image and likeness.BACK TO LIST